I was seven-years-old when I first visited the White House. My mom had a high school friend that worked on Air Force One manifests, and she invited us for a tour while my parents and I were in the nation’s capitol for one of my dad’s business conferences. 

My parents said that when I got home to Denver, I stood on the milk box under our flag and proclaimed that one day I was going to work in the White House. We didn’t really believe that, but 22 years later it came true.

I felt quite special because my little sister didn’t get to go with us. I was in awe of THE WHITE HOUSE (I said, with emphasis). We visited all of the memorials, and in particular I remember looking all the way up to see Lincoln and wanted to climb up and sit on his lap. Our flight left on the 4th of July, and I watched the fireworks burst over the Washington Monument. America! 

My parents said that when I got home to Denver, I stood on the milk box under our flag and proclaimed that one day I was going to work in the White House. We didn’t really believe that, but 22 years later it came true.

My parents said that when I got home to Denver, I stood on the milk box under our flag and proclaimed that one day I was going to work in the White House. We didn’t really believe that, but 22 years later it came true. 

I worked as a spokesperson at the Justice Department for several months after the 9/11 attacks and then I moved to the White House Council on Environmental Quality in 2002. My mom called one evening at of my first week on the job to see how it was going. I told her everything - how I got to attend a policy meeting about the Healthy Forests Initiative, watch the President return to the South Lawn on Marine One, and that I even got a call from Karl Rove and that he was very nice to me and that his advice improved my document. My mom wasn’t that into politics and after I stopped to catch my breath she asked, “Who the hell is Karl Rove?” Eventually, I became Karl’s spokesman when I was the deputy press secretary, and he loves that story, too.

When I first got the job in the West Wing, the chief of staff, Andy Card, met with me in his office and gave me some advice about how to approach working for the President of the United States and the citizens of the country. He suggested that every morning before I walked into work that I take a moment to say a prayer of thanks for the opportunity.  It was advice I took to heart - as I walked up the drive, before the Marines could open the doors to the West Wing, I remembered to thank God for the opportunity. That ritual started my day off on the right foot.

My service in the White House was remarkable and it changed my life. I made lifelong friends, was tested personally and professionally, and came away with a greater appreciation for America as a force for good in the world.  

During my last press briefing in January 2009, a reporter asked if I’d do the job again, and I said, “Oh yes, of course I would. I just wouldn’t do it for anyone else.”

P.S. In my new book "And the Good News Is…," I recommend that parents take their children to Washington, D.C. twice – once when they are between the ages of 7-10 for the wonder of it all, and then again between ages 15-17 after they’ve learned more about our system of government and have studied more American history. And I suggest that all college graduates consider spending a year or two working on Capitol Hill, regardless of their major and career choice. Two years working for Congress is excellent experience and will serve them well.

Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's "The Five" (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). She previously served as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush. She is the author of the new book "Let Me Tell You about Jasper : How My Best Friend Became America's Dog" (October 25, 2016). Ms. Perino joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Dana Perino. Follow her on Twitter@DanaPerino.